Working with Gold Leaf


Using Gold Leaf

Thanks to Reckon for his knowledge on this subject.  These are all his words.

it\’s basically this: (I\’ll use a Norton I just completed as an example) I took the norton factory sticker (says NORTON, in nice scroll type lettering) and and taped it down to a table, then place frisket (lo-tack masking sheets, stretchy, and clear, avail at art supply shops) over the factory decal, and trace the outline with a fine permanent marker, making sure I outline all the places I want the leaf to go, then take the frisket and place it where you want on the tank, and using a brand new long very fine pointed xacto knife, I carefully cut the frisket along my marks (if you nick the tank, it\’s ok, just dont go past the primer, & frisket cuts like butter anyway, so it\’s easy not too )then using ONE SHOT sizing glue (#4008 )mixed with a little bronzing powder so you can see the transparent glue as you apply it, using a lettering quill, I carefully brush the glue in the cut out spaces (try not to get too much excess on the frisket), just one coat covering all the spaces, not too thick so it globs)note what time it is, and then you wait about 30 minutes (at 70 degrees, longer if it\’s colder), then after 30 minutes VERY carefully remove the frisket (I cut pieces with the exacto knife to make it easier to remove), now here\’s where all the newbies make the mistake: WAIT until the glue is almost dry, barely tacky, about an HOUR AND A HALF (total, from when you applied it), test it with the back of your knuckle, it should be sticky, but leave nothing on your skin, then make sure there are no drafts or breezes, fans, the dog, kids etc,… before you start applying it take a sheet of leaf on it\’s tissue backing and go outside (so the pieces dont stick to your fresh sizing glue) and just handle it: tear it up, try to hold pieces of it try and get used to how fragile it is so it wont suprise you when you apply it, ok now starting at the BOTTOM of the glued design area, just touch the leaf to the glue, using the tissue as an applicator working in sections (I wear a mask so my breath doesn\’t blow the leaf all over), lightly rubbing the back of the tissue with your finger to burnish it into the glue and to make sure it\’s stuck everywhere the glue is, (you can rub your finger on your nose or forehead to pick up some oil so your finger slides smoothly and you dont smudge the leaf ), always working upwards, you can stick only half the sheet, let the leaf tear as you remove the tissue and use the other half on adjacent areas, keep working upwards (you dont want pieces of leaf falling onto fresh sizing below) until the entire design is covered, don\’t worry about “patchwork” sections, once you texture the leaf you can\’t see the little pieces making up the design,… ok, you\’ll have lots of extra leaf hanging off, DONT remove it yet, go and do the other side, or until there is no sticky glue surfaces left uncovered. (wherever the glue is, the leaf will stick) then take a big fat soft makeup brush (like women use to apply blush), and VERY gently brush away the excess leaf (wear a mask, and I hold a shop vac near so the leaf pieces dont contaminate the whole shop) until just the design area remains.

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now you have many choices, you can just leave it as is, or you can burnish it with a cotton ball or tissue or velvet for coarser texture (if you keep the strokes all in the same direction, it looks like brushed aluminum, killer for leaf pinstripes), you can take a sea sponge and smudge it slightly (looks sort of like marbelizing) or I love to “engine turn” it:
take a small piece of velvet and wrap it around a cotton ball (whatever diameter you want the “circles” to be), tape that to an old pinstripe brush handle, or any round thing (dowel) about 2 inches long, now use that to “turn” the leaf, push it down into the leaf gently and turn it, just a half turn, starting the next turn at the center of the last turn till it looks like snake skin.
now you can outline the edges with a small 00 or even smaller 000 brush (I cheat and use a beugler with the smallest diameter wheel ), I like to use a simliar but darker color: darker gold outline for gold, etc,…or just use black, red, or blue, you cant go wrong, WAIT for the outline paint to dry, (the sizing should also be dry in 6 hours or so)
ok now shoot a protective clear coat: mix a couple of ounces of your favorite clear, add some accelerator, and shoot 2 light tack coats and let it cure to “tape dry”, then shoot clear as you normally do.
or HOK makes an intercoat clear for this very purpose, but I have never used it personally.

a paint job with leafing will need to be looked after, washed often and waxed often, sometimes the design will shift under the clear (sizing applied too thick, and not let dry before clear coating) and the clear will need to be re-applied after about 5 years if left outside in the sun, but garage cars and bikes will last better than 15 years if cared for
(now you know why those firemen are forever waxing those trucks)

thats all there is to it, and it looks simply amazing under 3 coats of urethane clear, in direct sunlight

also the newer “faux” leafing materials (composite, usually aluminum, anodized, or tinted, varigated, etc,…) are alot less expensive to learn on, and are JUST as fragile as the real deal, so practicing with the cheap stuff gets you comfortable faster, so practice on the cheap stuff before you paint that f-350 fire engine red, and start with the scroll work

Have Fun